Well folks, I am sad to report that we still have not received the Grand Prix Calgary Top 32 for analysis. So we will never know whether Phoenix was the most dominant deck for six GPs in a row or not. However, the Top 8 was as diverse as can be so I will take it as a win. In fact, I have found something to love in each of these lists. Today I will highlight the hottest tech on display among the Top 8 decklists. You can view the full lists here as you read along.
Blue Moon: Actually Playing Blue Moon
Brian Wilms’ next level play at Calgary was on the deck registration sheet. The current state of Modern could be described as post-Phoenix. It is widely considered the best deck and people are running hate for it in their maindecks. Phoenix survives this by transforming into a Blue Moon deck for many postboard games. Well why not just start there? That is what Brian did and it earned him a spot in Top 8. Many have said that Titi is secretly better than Phoenix and this may lend some credit to that. I imagine at least one game was won as a result of opponent’s misidentifying and then misplaying against this deck.
UW Miracles: All of the Singletons
I honestly cannot settle on what I most enjoy about Austin Anderson’s list. I am always a fan of diversifying your spells in control decks, particularly to make Snapcaster more versatile, but this list goes above and beyond. We see five singleton counterspells in the maindeck; Absorb is especially spicy. Then we see Settle the Wreckage complimenting Terminus, which handles Meddling Mage very well. Then out of the board we have the now classic split of Lyra and Baneslayer to stick it to aggressive decks. My favorite singleton has to be Condemn though as it is absolutely brutal against Death’s Shadow decks but can also be used on your own creatures to gain life in a pinch. The tech here is playing a load of cantrips and Snapcaster with an abundance of singleton controlling spells; a classic.
Golgari Midrange: Mainboard Graveyard Hate
Part of the tech here is eschewing a splash color to enable mana hate. Between three Trophy, four Field, three Fulminator, and three Surgical there is no hope of assembling Tron. But playing straight Golgari is nothing new. However, using it to absolutely obliterate graveyard decks appears to be a great metagame call. Luca Finazzi opted for the full playset of Scavenging Ooze main backed up by two Nihil Spellbomb and a Kalitas. Postboard the hate is downright ridiculous with another Kalitas, a Grafdigger’s Cage, and the three Surgicals mentioned above. It is a testament to the current state of the format. It also worth noting that he ran Deglamers in the board to deal with Whir Prison; something I mentioned in my Bogles sideboard guide.
Dredge: The Manabase
As a former Dredge player, from the pre-Chill days, I am pleased to see my old manabase is still a quality choice. In the wake of Prized Amalgam and Cathartic Reunion, there was debate whether to run fetches to help endstep threats or rainbow lands to hard cast blue creatures. The issue with the rainbow lands is that multiple painlands will scoop to aggro and multiple Gemstones can leave you hellbent. The resolution? Just run one of each with fetches and shocks to fill it out like Tobias Roos did. The playset of Loam gives you reliable access to whatever you need. My favorite part though is the Ghost Quarter. In conjunction with Loam you will be able to is every turn; making it nearly impossible to assemble Tron.
Humans: Chalice of the Void
For those of you that follow my work, you are likely tired of hearing me talk about Chalice in Humans.. I first brought it up over a year ago and I mentioned it again in my Humans sideboard guide last month. You can read my thoughts on it at length there but I am glad to finally see it break out on the big stage thanks to Chris Carlile. He is currently working on a Tournament Report for his run at the event and I will be consulting with him for the April update to the guide.
Izzet Phoenix: Pyromancer Ascension
The initial reaction to Izzet Phoenix bursting onto the Modern scene was to load up on spells like RiP and Leyline of the Void. Then Phoenix went on to be the top deck at another GP and then another before the playerbase at large realized that this was ineffective. Now it is more popular to run removal spells and more versatile grave hate such Scavenging Ooze or Surgical. Despite continuing to soar over the competition, the Phoenix players continued to innovate and have added Pyromancer Ascension. It and Phoenix both belong in red decks that spam instants and sorceries but they typically cannot be dealt with in the same ways. You can Surgical or remove the creatures but you will still die when Ascension allows them to go off with Manamorphose, cantrips, and Bolts. At this point you want light, targeted grave hate as well as grave wipe hate. Then you must also be prepared to combat a Blue Moon transformational plan. Well played Andrew Huska.
Grixis Shadow: Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
I am of the opinion that all Grixis Shadow players should have at least one baby Jace in the 75. I was first introduced to this idea when Ben Jones wrote a sideboard guide for us in January. I was really sold on it when Michael Rapp spoke about it in his Grand Prix win tournament report for us. Do not get me wrong, I love Snapcaster, but when Jace sticks in this deck he is a loot into multiple Snapcasters. I strongly prefer Snapcaster against the Bolt decks but Jace is a strong rival elsewhere. Depending on the matchup he is reoccurring removal spells, counterspells, or draw spells. When things get really grindy, he even acts as an alternate win condition. So I am very pleased to see Sam Pardee fit two copies into the maindeck.
Breach Titan: Adding Black
The champion Attila Fur came to battle with a Breach Shift list. In general I am a fan of Breach lists and I love seeing them with Woodfall Primus as the persist makes it especially nasty. The list is very all in on Breach with only a single Scapeshift in the 75. I am also a big fan of Faithless Looting in these decks because, compared to Titanshift, they are more focused on card quality than quantity. Where it really separates from the norm though is the addition of black. I had seen Titanshift make a small black splash for Slaughter Games against combo in the past but this is quite different. This build has gone deeper into the black with both a basic Swamp and a Blood Crypt. This provides premium removal in the main and powerful hate out of the board. Four toughness creatures, such as Titi, will not be so difficult to answer and with Leyline of the Void they now have potent graveyard hate. I do believe that this might be the best way to play Valakut in Modern right now.
While I am disappointed that CFB is withholding the full results, perhaps it is best not to know. If it is another Phoenix GP, ignorance is bliss. Despite the small sample size, I still found these results very interesting. What hot tech will you be carrying into your next tournament? We would love to talk it over in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back to close out the week with an article on player burnout.